My kids are at the age where they ask questions they can’t google the answers to.
It was like, the second they found google, they stopped needing me for shit.
Here children, let me explain to you why the Earth is round, and Gigi comes at me all, WHY YOU TRYIN’ TO TELL ME BOUT GRAVITY PULLING EQUALLY FROM ALL SIDES MOM, NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON ALREADY TOLD ME ALL THIS ON YOUTUBE.
But, now the questions are more personal and more important.
That’s right, take a seat, Neil.
“How long have you been in love with dad?” Jude asks sitting on my unmade bed looking at an old high school yearbook.
As we are in the final stages of packing up our lives in this house, we’re going through boxes we never even had a chance to unpack.
Stuff we’d get to when we had time, and then time never actually happened, and now we have to face them and decide if their contents are worth the effort of moving them to another basement to bide time until we’re old and our kids stop making us drive them everywhere.
“God, honestly, I can’t remember when I wasn’t.” I said.
“Was it weird being in love with your husband in high school?” He asked.
I am often aware of the anomaly of the high school sweetheart, especially when I travel outside of my small town.
My cool, independent city friends are all, I road tripped across the country after high school with a band of my best friends and we got tattoos and slept in hostiles, and I am like, that sounds amazing, I was wearing a promise ring from Kay Jewelers and lying on my college application, saying Andy was my cousin so we could have dorms next to each other in college, what, why are you all looking at my with your faces all scrunched up like that?
90’s hair flip? Check.
Class flower? Check
Totally normal yellow gold teenage promise ring? Check. Check. Check.
We’ve always been an old couple.
Even our high school friends stopped inviting us over because while they were drinking Zima’s and smoking pot, we were sitting together on the couch watching the news and talking about our first apartment.
“I loved french fries and chocolate Frosties from Wendy’s, and dad would pick me up before bed almost every school night because he had a car and I didn’t, and we’d go through the drive through, get a large Frosty and large fry, and we’d drive down all the country roads listening to music, eating fries dipped in ice cream, and looking in people’s lit up houses.” I told Jude.
“You guys do this with us now.” He chimed in.
We do do that.
And I needed to realize this, because I’m turning 37 on Saturday, and leaving a home I thought we’d retire in, and everything is unsettled and rushed, and I spend entire night lying in bed thinking about our kids, and how they’ll remember their childhoods, and how we just can’t seem to get out shit together enough to even make traditions.
Who made us the adults in the room, we aren’t ready!?
When I think of traditions, I think of the stuff in these unopened boxes. The Christmas china I inherited from my grandma that she used every Christmas Day dinner with family, or my baby book and keepsakes my mom gathered and passed on to me when I got married.
As a mom, I have one baby book with writing in it, and then two others that I shoved ultrasound photos and bags of hair and teeth in like some sort of serial killer, assuming that one day, I might actually have time to fill in the blank spots.
One day Wyatt is going to open this fucking book and be like, why is the answer to all my first steps, words and favorite foods: 2007ish probably?
You know what, Wyatt, I was busy, but I was there, and you’re walking and peeing in a toilet now, so I can confirm that, at some point, everything that needed to happen, happened.
But, more importantly I realized, we have actual traditions.
We drive around on summer nights eating ice cream and looking at houses, we eat dinner together in the living room watching the Tonight Show, we open boxes of new pajamas and slippers, and eat fried rice– just us- together and watch movies on Christmas Eve.
This stuff counts, you guys. Nothing feels like It’s a Wonderful Life as it’s unfolding, it’s time that adds all the sepia filters.
And it also pulls them away.
I am writing this post in my office, and Andy is beside me on the couch untangling the random electronic cords and wires I’ve been shoving in closets, rewrapping them, labeling, and putting them into boxes like a super nerd. I turned in my chair and started to talk about when we were teenagers, and driving around, and planning our whole lives on those drives every single school night before he dropped me off at home an hour later to go to sleep.
“Remember all the places we said we were going to move?” I laugh.
“You wanted to go to Colorado, even though your ears popped the whole time we were there visiting. You didn’t care, though.” Andy filled in.
Colorado, New York, California, Massachusetts; I’m sitting here replaying all the potential places I remember us promising to live, and the only voice I’m actually hearing in these memories is my own.
I can see us in the car or lying in the field behind my house, and I can remember talking and talking, and I can see Andy and he’s nodding, and saying words like “anywhere,” and “yes.”
When I would think of this time in my life, and I even wrote about it in my first book, I remember it being the two of us against the world. We were going to escape and get married right away and start our life together far away from our families.
But, I think I’ve miss remembered things.
We didn’t want to escape. I wanted to escape.
Andy saw that in me, and would have given me any state in this country if I’d asked for it, because that is how much he loved me, and how have I never realized this before?
This is a heavy box, and my eyes sting, and I want to end this post better, but I can’t.
Time is a weird thing. Love is a weirder thing. I have to take my contacts out because they’re getting all cloudy as I write this, but hey, only 3 days until I’m 37 and have my life together.
Wish me luck.